Smelly face?
August 17, 2007 10:58 PM   Subscribe

What would cause my face to...smell?

The reason I ask is that mine seems to have a very pungent odor that becomes apparent if I rub the area on the sides of my nose or my forehead. I have oily skin, but this can happen even after I wash my face with regular or facial soap.

For some clarification you can try what I'm doing by rubbing your forehead firmly with the back of your hand then smelling the back of your hand.

I believe that I'm in good physical condition and I don't have any particular ailments that would cause me to emit an odor. I can say that as a teenager I did use Retin-A for acne, along with many other pimple-clearing creams and soaps, but it has been years.

I have gone to a dermatologist about this in the past, but he didn't offer much of a solution.

I've googled for this in as many ways as possible, but the only other instance I can find is here (last post).

(I have good hygiene, I shower regularly, etc..)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I tried this and got a very very faint smell that I coudn't be sure was there. I'm female and have dry skin, and I'm sure that accounts for some of the difference. Could it be something you're eating? Spices, garlic etc can scent your whole body from the inside.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:09 PM on August 17, 2007

Could it be Fish Malodor Syndrome?

My skin is oily too and smells like, well, scalp, but milder.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:13 PM on August 17, 2007

Human Glands of Moll.

Or, bacteria in the sebaceous glands of the forehead.

Or, the above are vestigial scent glands, like the scent glands many mammals have.
posted by orthogonality at 11:22 PM on August 17, 2007

The first thing I thought of was, it's something you're eating. I reek of coffee if I drink a cup on a hot day. I just sweat it out all over my body. Kind of intense, really.
posted by crinklebat at 11:55 PM on August 17, 2007

Well, it depends on what you mean by "smell"... What does it smell like?... I could be something bacterial, or it could be something in your soap or your facial cleanser that's causing a reaction with your skin... But we need to know what you're smelling before we can really give a definitive answer. (the site you linked to says "oily odor" but that's not very specific)
posted by amyms at 12:35 AM on August 18, 2007

posted by amyms at 12:35 AM on August 18, 2007

I think you're worrying too much about it. Don't sweat it.
posted by wsg at 1:11 AM on August 18, 2007

Is this actually something others have noticed and reacted to badly? If not then you are worrying for no reason...
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:23 AM on August 18, 2007

Have you been in the sun lately? Skin develops and very distinctive aroma when one is...
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:09 AM on August 18, 2007

I notice that on my fingers as well, after popping a zit in that area or getting rid of a blackhead. I wash my face morning and night, and rinse my face ( at least in the summer,) at least once a day. I think it just happens, it's not something you can avoid.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2007


If you're really worried about it, either in a hot shower or after steaming your face, try using an exfoliant followed by washing with antimicrobial cleanser (I really like clay cleansers for sucking the stuff out of the opened pores). Follow up with an astringent to close the pores again.
posted by porpoise at 1:57 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

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